Welcome to the world of traffic signs in India – the unsung heroes of road safety. If you’re a driver, a pedestrian or a cyclist, it’s important to understand the meaning of these signs for your safety and the safety of others on the road.
Traffic signs are more than just a bunch of symbols and colours. They are designed to be simple and easily understood, regardless of language or literacy. Traffic sign shapes convey important messages even from a distance, making them an essential part of transportation signs.
If you are planning to take the driving licence test, you must have a comprehensive understanding of all driving signs. It’s not just a matter of passing a test, but a matter of road safety. It’s like learning the language of the road, and traffic symbols with names are the building blocks of this language.
From the familiar stop sign to the obscure ‘slippery when wet’ sign, there are countless road safety signs with names and meanings that every road user should know. In this post, we will cover different road signs, their symbols of road safety rules and road safety signs with names.
Types of Traffic Signs
Traffic signs in India can be classified into three categories: mandatory signs, cautionary signs, and informatory signs. Mandatory signs are those that convey an obligatory instruction or a prohibition. Cautionary signs, on the other hand, indicate potential hazards or dangers that road users may encounter. Informatory signs, as the name suggests, provide information about the location, distance, and directions to specific destinations. Understanding the different types of traffic signs is critical to ensuring the safety of all road users. Now, we’ll go through each type of traffic sign in detail, so that you’ll know exactly what each sign means and how to act when you encounter them on the road.
1. Mandatory Signs
Mandatory traffic signs in India are essential to keep the roads safe for all users. Let’s delve into each of the mandatory signs and their meaning:
Stop: This red octagonal sign is a driver’s cue to immediately halt the vehicle. It is crucial to follow this sign to avoid accidents.
Give Way: This sign instructs drivers to yield to the traffic approaching from the right. It is necessary to obey this sign to avoid collisions.
Straight Prohibitor: The ‘No Entry’ sign indicates a restricted area that drivers should not enter. Violating this sign may lead to legal consequences.
Pedestrian Prohibited: The pedestrian prohibited sign indicates that it is illegal to walk in that area and pedestrians must use alternative routes.
Horn Prohibited: This sign prohibits honking in designated areas, ensuring a peaceful environment for residents and pedestrians.
No Parking: The ‘No Parking’ sign restricts the parking of vehicles in designated areas, making way for smooth traffic flow.
No Stopping or Standing: This sign instructs drivers not to park or stop their vehicles at the marked location. Following this sign will ensure smooth traffic flow and avoid congestion.
Speed Limited – This sign indicates the maximum speed limit for a specific area, and drivers should obey it to avoid accidents.
Right/Left Hand Curve – These signs warn drivers of a right/left-hand curve ahead, and they must drive carefully, reducing speed and ensuring safety.
Right/Left Hair Pin Bend – These signs warn drivers of sharp turns and require them to slow down.
Narrow Road Ahead – The narrow road ahead sign alerts drivers about the upcoming narrow road and encourages them to drive cautiously.
Narrow Bridge – This sign indicates the presence of a narrow bridge on the road ahead, and drivers must be careful while driving.
Pedestrian Crossing – This sign alerts drivers to a pedestrian crossing, and they should slow down to let the pedestrians cross safely.
School Ahead – The ‘School Ahead’ sign informs drivers of a school nearby, and they must reduce speed to avoid accidents.
Roundabout – This sign warns drivers of a circular intersection and the requirement to follow the roundabout rules while driving.
Dangerous Dip – This sign indicates a sharp dip ahead, and drivers must slow down to avoid accidents.
Hump or Rough – The ‘Hump or Rough’ sign warns drivers of speed breakers or bumps ahead, and they should reduce speed to avoid accidents.
Barrier Ahead – This sign warns drivers of a barrier or toll ahead, and they must prepare accordingly.
While driving on the road, safety should be the utmost priority of any driver. Cautionary signs play a crucial role in guiding drivers and alerting them about potential hazards ahead. Cautionary signs come in different shapes and colours and often feature images or words that quickly convey their meaning. Here are some common cautionary traffic signs and their meaning:
Right-Hand Curve – This sign warns the driver about an upcoming right-hand curve on the road. It is essential to slow down the vehicle and approach the curve with caution.
Left-Hand Curve – Similar to the right-hand curve sign, the left-hand curve sign warns drivers about an upcoming left-hand curve on the road.
Right Hair Pin Bend – This sign indicates a sharp right turn ahead. The driver should approach such turns slowly to avoid any accidents.
Left Hair Pin Bend – This sign indicates a sharp left turn ahead. It is essential to slow down the vehicle and approach such turns with caution.
Right, Reverse Bend – This sign warns drivers about an upcoming zigzag turn to the right. Drivers should proceed with caution and maintain a safe distance from other vehicles.
Left Reverse Bend – Similar to the right reverse bend sign, the left reverse bend sign warns drivers about an upcoming zigzag turn to the left.
Steep Ascent – This sign warns drivers that there is a steep upward slope ahead. It is essential to slow down the vehicle and gear to avoid engine overload and brake failure.
Steep Descent – This sign warns drivers that there is a steep downward slope ahead. Drivers should use the engine brake and avoid speeding down the slope.
Narrow Road Ahead – This sign warns drivers that the road ahead merges into a narrow lane. Drivers should slow down and give way to oncoming traffic.
Road Wideness Ahead – This sign indicates that the road ahead will widen. Drivers can carefully speed up and overtake other vehicles if it is safe to do so.
Narrow Bridge – This sign warns drivers about a narrow bridge ahead. Drivers should slow down and cross the bridge cautiously.
Slippery Road – This sign indicates that gravel or loose earth keeps falling on the road, making it slippery. Drivers should slow down and drive with caution to avoid skidding.
Cycle Crossing – This sign indicates that the road is meant for riding bicycles. Drivers should slow down and give way to cyclists.
Pedestrian Crossing – This sign indicates that pedestrians should cross the road. Drivers should slow down and give way to pedestrians.
School Ahead – This sign warns drivers about a school nearby. Drivers should slow down and drive cautiously in such areas.
Men At Work – This sign indicates that labourers are working on the road ahead. Drivers should slow down and follow the instructions of the traffic personnel.
Cattle – This sign warns drivers about the possibility of cattle on the road. Drivers should slow down and drive with care, giving way to cattle.
Falling Rocks – This sign warns drivers that the road ahead is prone to falling rocks. Drivers should slow down and drive cautiously to avoid accidents.
Informatory traffic signs may not be mandatory, but they are certainly useful in making our journeys smooth and stress-free. Here’s what some of them mean:
Public Telephone: If you need to make a phone call urgently and do not have a mobile phone, this sign indicates the presence of a public telephone nearby.
Petrol Pump: If your fuel gauge is running low, this sign will guide you to the nearest petrol pump.
Hospital: This sign indicates the presence of a hospital nearby, in case of a medical emergency.
First Aid Post: If you require basic medical attention, this sign indicates the presence of a first aid facility nearby.
Eating Place: Feeling hungry? This sign will guide you to the nearest eating place like restaurants, cafes, etc.
Light Refreshment: This sign indicates the presence of a light refreshment facility nearby where you can grab a quick bite or drink.
Resting Place: If you need a break from driving, this sign indicates the presence of a resting place where you can relax.
No Thorough Road: This sign indicates that there is no exit on this road, so it’s best to turn back or take a different route.
No Thorough Side Road: This sign indicates that there is no through road on the side road, so it’s best to avoid taking this route.
Park This Side: This sign indicates where to park your vehicle, so you don’t have to worry about finding a suitable spot.
Parking Lot Scooter and Motorcycle: If you’re on a two-wheeler, this sign indicates the parking lot for scooters and motorcycles.
Parking Lot Cycle: This sign indicates the parking lot for bicycles.
Parking Lot Cars: If you’re driving a car, this sign indicates the parking lot for cars.
Traffic Signs For Kids/Students
Traffic signs are not only important for drivers but also for children and students who are pedestrians. The following are the essential traffic signs for kids and students:
STOP Sign :This is a red octagonal-shaped sign that instructs drivers to come to a complete stop. Children must learn that whenever they come across this sign, they should always look left, right and left again before crossing the road.
School Crossing Sign: This is a yellow-green diamond-shaped sign, which indicates that there is a school nearby, and children may be crossing the road. Children should be extra careful and always look out for oncoming vehicles.
Slow: Children At Play Sign This is a yellow diamond-shaped sign that displays a picture of a child. It informs drivers that there may be children playing in the area, and they should slow down.
Seat Belt- Buckle Up Sign: This is a circular-shaped sign that shows a picture of a person wearing a seatbelt. It indicates that passengers must buckle up their seatbelts.
Traffic signs are a crucial aspect of road safety in India. They have a multitude of functions, including supporting drivers with information about the road, facilities around, and which lane to drive in. These signs also ensure road discipline by providing instructions that must be followed while driving.
One of the primary functions of traffic signs in India is to provide road instructions. This is especially important in highly congested areas where multiple lanes and complex intersections can confuse drivers. Signs that indicate the direction of traffic flow, lane markings, and road signs that indicate speed limits help drivers navigate safely.
Another function of traffic signs is to provide information about potential hazards on the road. Crossroads, potholes, and sharp curves can be dangerous, and signs that warn of these hazards give drivers ample time to slow down and drive cautiously.
Traffic signs in India also serve to mark entry and exit points. This is particularly important on highways and major roads, where drivers may need to take a specific exit or merge onto another road. These signs also help drivers navigate through cities, towns and villages with ease.
In addition, traffic signs provide information about parking areas. No Parking and No Stopping or Standing signs indicate areas where parking is not allowed, while Parking Lot signs show where vehicles can be parked safely. These signs prevent congestion and ensure that vehicles are parked in designated areas.
Finally, traffic signs provide information about maintaining the desired speed limit while crossing any institute to prevent accidents. School Ahead signs alert drivers to the presence of a school in the area and remind them to drive cautiously. Speed Limit signs also indicate the maximum speed limit in designated areas, keeping drivers and pedestrians safe.
In India, where traffic is often congested and unpredictable, traffic signs are critical. They help drivers navigate through crowded streets and busy intersections safely. They also inform drivers about road conditions, potential dangers, and speed limits. For pedestrians, traffic signs provide information about where to cross the road safely and where to find nearby facilities such as hospitals, petrol pumps, and eating places.
Hand Signals by Traffic Police
Hand signals used by traffic police in India are an essential aspect of ensuring smooth traffic flow and safety on the roads. These hand signals help regulate traffic and direct drivers, pedestrians, and other road users. Here are the ten hand signals used by traffic police in India and their meanings:
Stop: The palm faces the oncoming traffic, with the arm outstretched to signal vehicles to stop.
Go: The arm is outstretched with the palm facing upwards, signalling vehicles to proceed.
Slow Down: The hand moves up and down in a motion that indicates the need for vehicles to reduce their speed.
Move to the Left: The right arm is extended and points towards the left, signalling drivers to move to the left lane.
Move to the Right: The left arm is extended and points towards the right, signalling drivers to move to the right lane.
Straighten Up: The arm moves up and down with the palm facing down, indicating the need for drivers to move their vehicles in a straight line.
Turn Left: The left arm is extended out to the side, pointing to the left, indicating that drivers should turn left.
Turn Right: The right arm is extended out to the side, pointing to the right, indicating that drivers should turn right.
U-Turn: The arm moves up and down in a circular motion, indicating that drivers should make a U-turn.
Follow Me: The traffic police officer moves their arm in a circular motion, indicating that drivers should follow them.
Hand signals by drivers are an essential part of driving and communication on the roads in India. Here are some common hand signals used by drivers in India:
Left turn signal: The driver extends their left arm out of the window, pointing it towards the left side of the road, indicating a left turn.
Right turn signal: The driver extends their left arm out of the window, bending it at the elbow, with the hand pointing upwards, indicating a right turn.
Stop signal: The driver extends their left arm out of the window, with the palm facing downwards, indicating that they want to stop.
Hazard signal: The driver extends their left arm out of the window, with the palm facing upwards, indicating a hazard on the road.
Slow down signal: The driver extends their left arm out of the window, with the palm facing downwards, and then moves their arm up and down repeatedly, indicating that they want the vehicle behind them to slow down.
Overtaking signal: The driver extends their left arm out of the window, moving it in a circular motion, indicating that the vehicle behind them can overtake.
Thank you signal: The driver extends their left arm out of the window, with the palm facing upwards, indicating a thank you gesture.
Emergency signal: The driver extends their left arm out of the window, with the palm facing downwards, and then moves their arm up and down repeatedly, indicating an emergency.
Police signal: The driver extends their left arm out of the window, with the palm facing downwards and waving it up and down, indicating the presence of a police officer on the road.
Horn signal: The driver honks the horn to alert the driver in front of them.
Road Marking or Pavement Marking Signs in India
Road marking or pavement marking signs in India play a crucial role in guiding drivers and pedestrians on the roadways. Here are some common road marking signs in India and their meanings:
Broken White Lines – These lines separate two lanes of traffic travelling in the same direction.
Solid White Lines – These lines indicate the boundary of the driving lane and should not be crossed.
Double White Lines – These lines separate two lanes of traffic travelling in the same direction and should not be crossed.
Broken Yellow Lines – These lines separate two lanes of traffic travelling in opposite directions and may be crossed if it is safe.
Solid Yellow Lines – These lines indicate no passing and should not be crossed.
Zigzag Lines – These lines indicate that parking is not allowed.
Pedestrian Crossing Markings – These markings indicate where pedestrians can cross the road safely.
Centre Lane Markings – These markings indicate a shared turning lane for vehicles travelling in opposite directions.
Arrows – These markings indicate the direction of traffic flow.
Stop Lines – These lines indicate where vehicles should stop at an intersection or before a pedestrian crossing.
Road Rage in India
Road rage is a serious issue in India and the number of road rage and rash driving cases has been on the rise. According to the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, there were 1,55,000 road rage accidents in 2019 and 1,83,000 cases in 2020. In 2021 the number increased to 2,15,000, and unless people start driving carefully and calmly, this number will only continue to rise.
Road rage is caused by various factors, such as stress, impatience, and frustration. It can result in dangerous situations for all involved and is best avoided altogether. Some common types of road rage include honking excessively, aggressive driving, tailgating, and rude gestures.
To prevent road rage, drivers need to stay calm and patient, obey traffic rules, and avoid driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. It’s also important to be considerate of other drivers and show respect on the road. Remember that road rage not only endangers yourself but also other drivers, pedestrians, and even animals.
In conclusion, traffic signs are an integral part of road safety in India. They help communicate important information to drivers, pedestrians, and other road users, thus reducing the risk of accidents and fatalities. From stop signs to speed limit signs, from hand signals to road markings, these signs act as a visual language that we all need to understand and follow to ensure our safety on the roads.
Like the notes of a symphony, traffic signs guide us through our journey on the roads, and it’s up to us to listen and follow their lead. Ignoring them would be like trying to play a song without knowing the right notes – it simply won’t work! Let’s be responsible road users and do our part in making our roads safer for everyone. Together, we can make a difference, one sign at a time!
Q. What is the main function of traffic signs?
The main function of traffic signs is to provide information, guidance, and warnings to road users to ensure their safety.